Thursday, September 13, 2007


As I noted in my earlier post, Rudy Giuliani is calling MoveOn's "Betray Us" ad "one of the more disgusting things that has happened in American politics."

That's odd, because late last month Giuliani unveiled his media team, which included a Texas firm called Scott Howell & Company. As Max Blumenthal has noted, the firm was behind the sleazy anti-Harold Ford "Call me" ad as well as the 2002 Saxby Chambliss ad that intercut pictures of Senator Max Cleland and Osama bin Laden.

But wait -- Blumenthal has more:

Howell's spots contributed to the defeat of ... Oklahoma Democratic senatorial candidate Brad Carson.... To undermine Carson, Howell created an image of welfare checks being passed to anonymous brown hands. Howell also set the stage for President George W. Bush's re-election victory with the ad called "Safer, Stronger," which appropriated the iconic image of firefighters emerging from the wreckage of Ground Zero with a flag-draped body, a production that used actors and was condemned as phony by the president of the International Association of Firefighters....

And then there was "the Hitler ad," which was used against then-Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, a Catholic who's opposed to the death penalty and who was running for governor:

This Howell-produced spot featured an elderly man, Stanley Rosenbluth, staring into the camera and exclaiming, "Tim Kaine voluntarily represented the man who murdered my son." In a sixty-second version (timed to debut on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur), Rosenbluth uttered the most memorable statement of the governor's race thus far: "Tim Kaine says that Adolf Hitler doesn't qualify for the death penalty. This was the worst mass murderer in modern times."

Rosenbluth's Hitler reference may have been bracing, but it was not a non sequitur. During a lengthy question-and-answer session with reporters in September, Kaine was asked if he would support execution for Hitler, Stalin or Idi Amin. He replied, "If God gives life, God should take it away." Later in that session, Kaine stated that he would enforce the death penalty despite his personal opposition to it, a fact Howell's commercial omitted.

... Howell's invocation of Hitler ignited an unexpected political firestorm. The Anti-Defamation League and a parade of Virginia-based rabbis condemned the ad for "trivializ[ing] the Holocaust," while virtually every major newspaper in Virginia ran editorials denouncing it. Among them was the pro-death penalty
Daily Press of Newport-News, which wrote, "In the search for votes, Kilgore goes looking in the gutter."

Oh, and it wasn't even true that Kaine "voluntarily represented" the murderer:

...In a conference call with reporters after the Kilgore ad aired, Kaine explained that while his law firm was appointed by a judge to represent Richard Rosenbluth's killer, his own involvement in the case was limited to providing forty minutes of advice to the lawyer who argued it.

So I think there's a good chance that American politics will see things that are far more disgusting than the "Betray Us" ad, and Giuliani will be paying for them.

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